I worry about a world where the feminine – especially the young feminine – lives so much of the time in the darkness of sexual shadow. This is an open letter to girls becoming women. It is an invitation for you to come into the light and be seen for what you are – the life giving beauty which transforms the heart of any culture.
I’m reminded of a story about a girl who was able to save her community. It’s a Bible story – please don’t shut this down just because of that. These stories have been around a long time for a reason and this one might surprise you.
If you read one of the English translations of the Bible it will say Esther was “fair and beautiful,” but that’s not it. The Hebrew text says she “had a great shape.” They don’t tell you this in Sunday School, (or Veggie Tales), but Esther used that great shape of hers to get close to the King and because she did, so the story goes, she was in a position to protect her people. The King you see, was looking for a Queen. Every night his handlers sent in a new girl to sleep with him. When Esther was taken in, the King loved her more than all the others. The story says she won not only the King’s favor, but his devotion, so he set a royal crown on her head and made her Queen. Makes me wonder, what was so special about Esther? We’ll get back to that.
And what has Esther to do with you? Let’s start with this: if you look at yourself, you will find something beautiful emerging. I know, not everyone’s a d-cup, but then no matter what you may hear, not everyone likes big breasts. (If they did, all women would have them; natural selection would have taken care of that by now.) Of course you can look critically at your body and find something not to like. The most classically “beautiful” women I know are dissatisfied with something – ass too flat, legs too short, something. But if you look at your body and ask yourself what you do like, well then you will see a shape developing that has the power to allure and excite.
And if you look deeper, you will find other things in yourself that light up the world. Have you noticed how your hugs bring warmth to any room? Have you noticed that when you listen it makes people feel like they’re worth something? Or maybe you’ve found that you have a creative mind, sometimes playful, sometimes serious. If nothing is coming to mind, ask a good friend and believe what she tells you.
And if you look one step deeper still, beyond imagination, beyond the drama of relationships, beyond the worry and stress, you will find a quiet place in the center of your heart. When you go there, you will know beyond all doubt that you are loved. It is safe to say that you will have a full compliment of feminine power to work with. You all have it; I swear to God it’s true. The question is, “How will you use it?”
There were lots of girls for the King to choose from; lots of great shapes, eyes and smiles, quick minds, and charm; lots of girls who wanted to be Queen. Why did he choose Esther? I think I know. I’ve known many women who have significant feminine power. Some choose to manipulate men with it – or maybe they don’t even choose it, maybe it’s all they’ve seen or been taught. But when that happens, relationships become bartered arrangements without any of the intimacy I think you long for. You know, “If you treat me this way, then maybe you’ll get lucky and I’ll bestow my sexual favors on you.” Or worse, “If I give you my body will you love me? Please? Pretty please?” Neither satisfies, both leave you disconnected, used up, insecure.
I think Esther knew that because she is formed by something called Torah. She knew that quiet place in the center of her heart; she knew it was a place of connection to the very source of creative power. A place where she could connect to the God who creates beauty, who brings new life into the world, the God of love. Drawing on that creative power, Esther gives herself to the King. She gives him much more than her body, and the King becomes deeply devoted to her. That’s what makes her special.
I bring it up because the world needs more beauty right now. We really do, so please take care of yourself and when you go into the world dress to be beautiful. But I’d like you to think about what that means. If you wear a low cut top, do you really want every man who sees you to be distracted because half your breasts are exposed? Trust me, we are. Do you really want our collective pulse rate to go up or to interrupt conversation just by walking by in a skirt short enough to make us wonder what’s underneath? It happens all the time. Do you want the guys you know and like to feel guilty or embarrassed as they try not to stare – or worse still, not be embarrassed, but instead be rude and aggressive as their testosterone level climbs through the roof? I’m asking because it is that kind of thing that produces sexual shadow until it becomes a dark cloud threatening to obscure your incredible beauty.
As you move into womanhood let me say this. Your body is a wonderful gift – a gift for you to enjoy, a gift you have to offer. It will be yours to use, to nurture, connect, excite, comfort, encourage, and satisfy. I’m begging you to use it to fill this world with the creative beauty that flows from within you, a girl becoming a woman, who is loved by God. With that in mind, I offer some brief advice on dealing with physical relationships:
- Be in control of your own body.
- Learn how to enjoy your body. Sometimes it takes a while for a woman to figure out how. The physical pleasure your body offers you is holy and wonderful; don’t let anyone tell you different.
- Learn how to use your body to satisfy another. There are moments to turn up the heat, moments that you can rock his world, (or for some of you, her world). Just be aware there is no amount of physical pleasure that can buy you the love you seek. It doesn’t work that way.
- Seek to express yourself physically in proportion to the intimacy and trust of the acquaintanceships, friendships and partnerships you develop.
Let me say one last thing. I am absolutely certain that you will make mistakes, everyone does – everyone. Be kind to yourself, for the love of God that forms you, is always there to restore you.
Grace and peace,
What a gift, Sam. A few days ago, I enjoyed meeting Sam, a Presbyterian minister in San Rafael, California. As a man raised in a pretty traditional Roman Catholic tradition, there’s still a part of me amazed and surprised to hear Christian ministers speaking in a voice that is at once both honors the Christian tradition and is not held hostage to its vestiges of hostility to the body.